Monday July 3 2017
Conti perfect for Milan

Andrea Conti is a modern day full-back, offering Milan energy and purpose in the final third, writes Nick Valerio

If a winger ended the season with eight strikes and five assists, it would be considered a relative success. A double-figured contribution should be the minimum expectation for a midfielder, but for a defender to achieve such numbers, as is the case of Andrea Conti, is extraordinary. He was the most prolific defender in Europe's top five leagues last term.

Instrumental to how Atalanta defied expectation and secured fourth place in Serie A was the form of Conti. As the league’s surprise package continued to defy expectations in the 2016-17 campaign, it was captain Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez and midfield powerhouse Franck Kessie who initially hit the headlines. But neither man performed the role of two players over the course of a gruelling season.

The game has evolved. We are in the midst of a cycle where full-backs are judged on their attacking instincts, with the defensive element less important. Look at some of the world’s best in the position. Brazilian’s Dani Alves and Marcelo have both spent their careers as essentially auxiliary wingers, and with some refining, Conti can be a continued threat going forward once his move to Milan is complete.

The Rossoneri and player will be a perfect foil for one another. Conti fits the ‘new Milan’ direction and has the hunger to develop. Already thriving under the tutelage of Gian Piero Gasperini, now Vincenzo Montella is the ideal Coach to improve the raiding full-back further. Both are advocates of youth and a move to Milan is the next logical step to continue his education. You only have to look at how far Manuel Locatelli, Gigio Donnarumma and Alessio Romagnoli have flourished under their young Boss.  

While raw defensively, this will be honed with age. In the mean-time, Conti’s effervescent work-rate will more than make up for any defensive shortcomings.

Any incoming summer signing will be briefed with the club’s one principal goal: to contribute and play a part in lifting the giants back to the top of Italian football. The opportunity could not have arrived at a better time for Conti and he could conceivably make the position his own for the best part of a decade. Current first choice and club stalwart Ignazio Abate will soon turn 31 and can’t be relied upon forever, especially with his record of injuries.

Elsewhere, Mattia De Sciglio’s future remains a topic of debate. De Sciglio only has a year left on his contract and with Juventus circling again, the time may be finally right to part with the versatile defender, with a replacement imminent. 

For Conti, signing for the Diavolo will boost his hopes with the national team no end. With respect to Atalanta and everything they achieved last season, Milan ensure greater visibility and will show how he handles pressure.

The Lecco native will form part of a new look back-line alongside fellow recruits Ricardo Rodriguez and Mateo Musacchio, able to play as both an orthodox defender or wing-back. For a Coach, this flexibility is a dream and Conti should develop a formidable partnership with Suso on the right flank, not only doubling up on the opponent, but allowing the Spaniard the freedom to roam and move inside. 

The Italian is part of the next generation of Azzurri talent and possesses all the tools to be a success. Conti is technically able, quick and can physically hold his own. If he can replicate or get close to his output for Atalanta, the €25m outlay will be a steal, and the World Cup in Russia will become a realistic aim for the adventurous defender. 

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Have your say...
He's not disciplined on the pitch and finds himself picking up a lot of yellows. He displayed that lack of discipline when he picked up a really dumb yellow in the Euro's, during injury time vs Germany and missed the semi's vs Spain. He's got to learn to keep that temper under control, and has room to still improve at 23.
on the 4th July, 2017 at 1:45pm
to complain about. However these signings of themselves will not get us to 35 and in some cases I can see them undermining that goal by denying some of the only leaders we have on the pitch. Bonaventura, whose at best above average, still is our best candidate for captaincy is being undermined by Çalhanoğlu and Conti undermines another captain in Abate. That leaves Montolivo...If Milan have so much money they should have re-signed Thiago Silva and then we'd have a ready made captain.
on the 4th July, 2017 at 9:15am
@ Anonymous I'm aiming for 35 (not 33) Scudetti. I want Milan to overtake Juventus and I believe it is possible but we would need a manager like Alex Ferguson, Mourinho, Conte or Guardiola. I believe that these types of managers can pretty much win the league with anyone. I'm much more concerned with getting the most of the players we have rather than trying to magically fix it on the transfer market. The signings Milan have made this summer have generally been good and in reality I have little
on the 4th July, 2017 at 9:10am
@viktor you may find it amusing i find it depressing honestly look at the alternatives zambrotta who was past it antonini who had 1 quality season and dropped taiwo constant and mesbah the less said the better antonelli who is quality but has barely featured because of his injuries.
on the 4th July, 2017 at 7:24am
@ Rosario Yes you need superstars but you also need squad players. Padoin, De Ceglie, Isla, Bendtner and Matri won titles with Serie A. And these players were key because they allowed Juve to have a consistent starting 11. You absolutely need players in the squad that will never play. My big concern with Montella is he keeps changing the starting 11. Last season with minimal options and fixtures he kept changing the starting line up. Next season will be starting with a completely different side
on the 4th July, 2017 at 6:01am

Anyone can claim anything on the internet. Looking at you @Sam.
on the 4th July, 2017 at 5:13am
With Bernardeschi and Berardi the potential is there... maybe they'll become worldclass maybe not.
Italians are notorious late bloomers in any case and besides football intelligence cannot be taught but is a gift and this is where we can excel on the big stage.
Conte proved in the last Euros that you don't need a team packed with superstars to do well in a tournament...hard work and clever tactics goes a long way now add Verratti along with Insigne, Belotti, BBC and co. to the equation well....
on the 4th July, 2017 at 2:54am
@Maldini's Heir I'm starting to question your ambitions, do you want players to improve the team or just stick with the average ones we had? Nothing on earth will turn a team of Abates and Bonaventuras into league or CL contenders..
on the 4th July, 2017 at 1:39am
Del Piero in his youth was not only technically superior to both berardi and bernardeschi, he had very good acceleration and a lower center of gravity. Baggio very much the same. They were simply better players. They had a little zip to their acceleration and also had more talent. Berardi & Bernardechi are in the same standard as say Fiore, Locatelli, Doni etc..They have very good shooting technique and have good vision and overall technique, but they aren't special like baggio,zola,ADP
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 10:40pm
@sam. Who in the game has had elite dribbling skills and been built like the hulk? Bernardeschi is a kid and naturally he will grow depending on which position he ends up in. Berardi bar last season given his injuries is a top player in the making. Baggio was not stocky, didn't have immense speed and yet was a great dribbler. Del Piero the same. Totti whilst taller never was blessed with pace. Unless berardi is coverted to an outright centre forward like vieri, why would need to put on muscle?
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 8:32pm
Of course not. Billy has been scouting since the virgin mary's immaculate conception. Billy was there to tell all that Jesus christ himself was the real deal, even if he was potentially a risk not worth taking.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 7:16pm
To the last poster, what have I got to do with Milan? Nothing, your post makes 0 sense.

to rosario,

Yes, you can survive without being the quickest and pace isnt everything. In truth, I've always been an advocate for skill over speed BUT

here is the issue with berardi and bernardeschi.

They lack

1: Balance
2: Strength
3: Elite dribbiling skills
4:Don't have a stocky build which makes them hard to stop esp with dribbling skills.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 7:12pm

Abate is the best full back milan have had since jankulowski(!)!)!))

on the 3rd July, 2017 at 7:02pm
so sam you are the milan scout to blame for the likes of muntari essien traore matri torres acerbi constant cerci zapata mexes sosa zaccardo. I think your judgement maybe flawed probably from watching too much calcio. how it is going to watch foggia on a cold November night?
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 2:21pm
@sam. A rather outlandish comment to make when I've held a season ticket since I was 8 years old. Yes. there is no certainty in football, but unless you take risks when signing players, you will never know if a player can make the step up or otherwise. I've never rated Bernardeschi but you give a lot away when the first attribute you mention is pace. If pace was so incredibly critical, England would've produced 10 world player of the year winners. Berardi is a sound prospect.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 1:35pm
Abate is one of the few remaining players (if any others remain) who has won for Milan, he has experience, played in a team of superstars, knows the place and the history and can transmit that to the new lads... he played with Pirlo, Gattuso, Seedorf, Kaka, Thiago Silva, Ibra, and Nesta... he surely will be important...

Now Milan need to sign one or top class players now, Iniesta, Cesc or so on, to bind the team...
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 12:30pm

My critique of the italian youth teams is quite simple really. Berardi and Bernarchesi lack pace and explosion ( and even strength) to ever become very good players. They are merely thomas locatelli standard from back in the day. Gagliardini lacks guile and agility and doesn't have much in the way of vision/passing. Benassi is the allesandro grandoni of midfielders. Pellegrini needs to improve in every facet.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 12:21pm

I've watched more italian football than anyone here commenting, combined. I'm an ex scout. I've watched Conti around 30 times this season. What I'm saying is that he's an average player with good determination and suits a 3-5-2 formation where he can afford to be over-attacking in mindset.

I've seen enough italian overhyped youth in the past 30 years to state what I think of a player. I say '' seems'' because there is no certainty in football.

He's also not a 20 year old. He's 24..
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 12:14pm
@rosario it is pretty common for most fullbacks to start off as wingers look at abate he played rm at torino. Marek attacking ability more than made up for defensive fragility remember the goal he scored against sevilla in the supercup. serginho was the same these guys were quality players. Maldini and pancaro really were the all round fullbacks in terms defence and attack. as for oddo when he lost his pace he look suspect but he could cross the ball better than any of milan current fullbacks.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 12:02pm
@Billy. Marek was never a full back. He was a winger who was made to play full back / wing back. In all honesty, defensively he was more than suspect and nearly cost us on more than two occasions in the final vs liverpool. I think if Marek was playing in the Milan side of last season, he would be shown up for being mediocre. But he like Oddo and up to an extent abate were able to raise their game when playing with better players. Boateng another example. looked good with better players.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 11:43am
@Maldini's heir! You don't win titles with superstars? Buffon, bonucci, pjanic, dybala, higuain etc aren't superstars? Since when did any team win with players who 'doesn't need to play'? I don't get this comment at all. What is abate going to offer by being sat on the bench all season? acting as the team clown to keep spirits up? Milan won't be fighting for the title next season. Massive leap to make in a couple of months. But they'll need to get closer to the top 3. Abate is well past his best
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 11:37am
when 25 million for a fullback is considered a steal you know prices in football are over-inflated. It is important there are no guarantees that he will succeed but it is worth trying considering abate is the best fullback milan have had since cafu or jankulovski.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 10:40am
@ Rosario It's not about quality but continuity. For better or for worse Abate is now a mainstay. Plus he doesn't need to play. That's the key: we need players who'll sit on the bench and not play so we can start getting some continuity in the side. You don't win titles with superstars, you win them with coherent squads, with players who are starters, with rotation players and with squad players who never play.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 10:37am
Rosario, agreed, the Abate-Beckham partnership was amazing where each played to their strengths, I like his on-the-pitch attitude but he's fading... Conti is a lot of money but an intelligent signing, not that many Wingbacks are readily available and at the price some are going for - if he doesn't work out sell him for 50m+!

Spot on article.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 10:17am
@maldini's heir! I've been waiting for the best part of 8 seasons for Abate to get a good cross into the box. He just can't cross a ball. When fully fit, he is an exceptionally dedicated defender, but unfortunately neither he or any of the current crop do enough to close down crosses. Calabria played 2nd fiddle to Conti in the Euro, so I would be happier seeing Milan wave goodbye to Abate and have calabria and conti fight for a spot instead. Abate is in decline, so better to turn the page.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 9:33am
@sam. your week can only get better. You've already spewed a whole week's worth of utter tripe in a couple of sentences. Séamus* is a 28 year old seasoned player with over 300+ games under his belt. Conti is a young up and coming full back. Comparing the 2 is comical. Also. when you use a term 'seems like', clearly shows that you've hardly seen him play. A technical full back with an edge to his game is everything that Milan need as opposed to the likes of de sciglio / abate / antonelli.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 9:00am
It took me some time to come around to this signing because he undermines Abate (potential captain) and Calabria (potential future) but he does seem to be class. 8 goals and 4 assists from RB last season is class. I'm loath to send Calabria on loan but there isn't room for him this season. I reckon a year somewhere where he'll actually play and which won't hamper his career and then we'll need to say goodbye to Abate next season. Every signing undermines someone else.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 8:42am
seems like a less talented version of Sheamus Coleman to me.

The best italy can do is

Emerson Palmieri on the left and Spinazzola on the right.

Conti is not in the same class as palmieri and spinazzola can play on the right as he is naturally right footed anyway.
on the 3rd July, 2017 at 8:16am

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